Harry/Hermione; Time period: summer before the sixth year. Harry has been holding it all in since the events of OotP. Hermione is as loyal a friend as ever. And I am a shameless H/Hr shipper. Fear me.
You're the Light in my Darkness
The boy named Harry Potter had changed a lot, said the Dursleys often to one another. He didn't really mind at all when Dudley beat on him. In fact, he almost seemed to enjoy it. He was eating less than what Aunt Petunia gave him--if that was even possible. And Uncle Vernon was finding no reason to yell at him because he kept himself locked up in his room, as quiet as if he wasn't even there. This would have been a good thing, but it wasn't.
Harry was not only cutting himself off from the Dursleys, but he wasn't making contact with anyone else either. Every three days someone from the Order of the Phoenix came to see him, just checking to see if he was okay. After all, Moody had promised the Dursleys that he would check in if he didn't hear from Harry in three days...
And no one had been hearing from Harry. Not even Ron or Hermione. So every three days someone from the Order had to go to Number 4 Privet Drive and check up on him, much to the protest of the Dursleys.
Four days after Moody had dropped in and spoke quite sternly to Harry, the boy was in no better shape than he had been before and he still had no intention of contacting anyone from the wizarding world--or anyone at all, for that matter.
He was lying on his stomach on the bed, his face buried in his pillow. Maybe if I lie hear long enough I'll suffocate and die, he thought hopefully.
But there was suddenly a knock at the door. Remembering that it was the fourth day Harry groaned. Who would it be this time? He was sure that he had probably seen all of the members of the Order about twice or three times each. By now they were getting quite frustrated with him. On his last visit Moody had threatened to take back his promise and leave Harry alone, even if he didn't contact them in three days. Harry wouldn't care. That's what he wanted.
Maybe if he just sat there they would leave. Maybe if he pretended he didn't exist they would believe that he didn't and go away. He couldn't deny that little voice in his head that said, "You miss them. You miss Hermione and Ron and the other Weasleys." But another voice (and one that was probably more prominent at this time) answered back and said, "You can't get close to anyone. Look at what happened to your parents, Cedric and now Sirius...no, you have to cut the ties."
"Harry," a calm, quiet voice spoke through the door, "won't you let me see you?"
It was Remus Lupin. Harry ignored the second voice and went to the door. He didn't doubt, however, that as soon as he opened it Voldemort would be there, staring him in the face, Remus a dead heap on the floor.
Fortunately when he opened the door a crack he saw Remus Lupin's tired grey eyes. They looked more tired than usual and a little worried, too. "Now you've seen me," said Harry dully as he started to shut the door.
But Remus did something he had never done before--something very odd for him. He stuck his foot in the door and then pushed it open completely, stepping inside the room. Harry unwillingly stepped back, a little surprised at his blunt force. This was the most he had seen of anyone besides the Dursleys since he was at Hogwarts.
Remus took a good look at Harry and then sighed. Harry realized that he must look pretty bad. He hadn't showered in a while. He hadn't really changed clothes since he got back to the Dursleys. His upper lip was stained with dried blood from Dudley punching him and he wasn't even wearing his glasses. They lay broken half on the nightstand. His hair, if possible, was messed up more than usual.
"Harry, what are you doing? You haven't been contacting us, yet the Dursleys haven't stopped you from doing so. We're worried about you," Remus said sincerely.
Part of Harry wanted to shout, "Well, I'm worried about you lot!" But he refrained and just said nothing.
"Why haven't you been talking to anyone? Ron and Hermione said you haven't sent them any owls either," Remus added.
Harry was silent. Remus waited patiently for him to answer. When he did not he bent slightly so he was eye-level with Harry. "You can tell me, Harry. You can tell me what's troubling you."
Harry couldn't believe that he didn't know. Sirius was dead because of him--Harry. If he had only taken those Occlumancy lessons seriously his godfather wouldn't have died that night in the Department of Mysteries... As if that wasn't bad enough, Harry had to either murder Voldemort or be murdered by him according to that prophecy. He hated Voldemort, but he still wasn't sure he would be able to murder him. He wasn't a murderer and this was Voldemort... He almost thought victim sounded okay.
At least he'd be with Sirius.
Remus sighed and straightened up again, rubbing his forehead. "Well, I guess since you're okay I should go."
Harry still didn't speak. Remus walked to the door. He stopped briefly before shutting it behind himself, as if waiting for Harry to act. Harry remained motionless. The door closed and he heard Remus descending the stairs. Suddenly Harry got this feeling...like he wanted to run after Remus and stop him. He was really tired of being alone...he was tired of only having himself and the Dursleys to look at. He was tired...just so tired...
Four days later no one came. Four days after that, still no one came. When three weeks had gone by Harry began to wish himself dead. If only Voldemort's curse had succeeded fifteen years ago when he'd tried to kill Harry...but no, it was because the curse rebounded that Harry had lived in the misery that he had the past several years. The first ten years were spent with the Dursleys...in misery. Then when good things finally started happening to him like Hogwarts and the Weasleys...or Hermione and Sirius...they were being ripped from him one by one. Voldemort was going to pick them off until Harry was too hurt and weakend by their never-ending deaths to fight back. Then he would finally kill Harry...then the pain would finally end.
One night when thoughts such as these were tormenting Harry's mind he heard a soft "dunk" on the window. He ignored it. It was probably Dudley and his gang trying to lure him out. He was fine where he was.
But after five minutes the "dunk" noises had increased. He finally decided to yell out the window at the perpetrator. He wanted to be alone with himself...
He flung open the window and stuck his head out to yell, but the words got caught in his throat when he saw who was standing in the lawn of Number 4 Privet Drive looking up at him anxiously.
It was Hermione.
"Harry!" She whispered hoarsley. "Harry, come down!" She made wild hand gestures.
Harry couldn't remember a time when Hermione had come to Privet Drive. He could just stare down at her, dumbfounded. "How did you get here?" He asked.
"Come here!" She hissed.
Without even thinking Harry crept out of his room, down the stairs (carefully stepping over the creaking ones) and out the front door. But he didn't see Hermione anywhere. He wondered for a moment if he had just imagined her there and a voice in his head assured him that he was finally losing his mind. But then he heard a very distinct, "Psst!"
He looked to the source of the sound. It was a tree down by the sidewalk. Hermione's bushy head appeared from behind it and she once agained motioned to him. He slipped across the lawn to the tree where she grabbed his wrist and took off down the sidewalk. Harry felt a shiver slide up his spine. It was the most physical contact he'd felt from another person in quite a long time.
She led him to the play park where there was at least a light on in the dark night. When they reached the swingset she let go of him and sat down on one of the swings. She looked expectantly at him and he sat on the other one. Then she cleared her throat.
"Harry," she said quietly, "are you alright?"
"Fine," Harry answered bluntly.
She was staring at him, her cinnamon-brown eyes never blinking. "Are you sure? Ron said the Order's had to send a member here every three days."
Harry shrugged. Her gaze was starting to make him nervous.
"You haven't written to me," she grew quieter.
Harry dared himself to look at her and saw with surprise that tears were glossing her eyes. For a moment he just wanted to hug her and say, "I'm so sorry, Hermione!" But he changed his mind.
"I can't write to you," he said instead.
"Why not?" She asked, obviously hurt that he would say such a thing.
Didn't she understand? Anyone he made contact with was in danger of being murdered by Voldemort or one of the Death Eaters...just like Sirius. Why was he even sitting here talking to Hermione? He glanced around the park nervously. He could have sworn that he saw eyes peering at him from the darkness beyond the streetlight's glare...
He suddenly jumped up. "I have to go, Hermione."
She grabbed his hand very quickly and he felt his feet stop. He turned around and faced her. She held onto his hand and then blushed, letting go. She stood. "Why do you want to leave me?" She asked tearfully.
And for the first time in a long while it was the truth that he spoke.
"Then why are you?"
Something happened then that Harry could not explain. The two voices inside his head that had been bossing him around all summer were yelling moreso than ever. The one that had always told him to tell Tonks everything when she asked and to run after Remus when he left had always been ignored. The one that had told him to lock everyone out of his life and never return Ron and Hermione's owls had won. And the voices were speaking again. One was saying clearly: "Tell her. Tell her everything." And the other was saying just as clearly: "No. Go back to the Dursleys. You can't talk to her." For the first time all summer the first voice won. He opened his mouth and out came exactly why he had been avoiding her and Ron and everyone else. But that's not all that came out. It was as if someone had given him veritaserum. He was pouring out all of his dreams, nightmares, hopes and fears...he was telling her how depressed he was...how much he missed everyone...how he had wished that Voldemort would storm into Number 4 Privet Drive and kill him...how his heart felt like it was ripping in two everytime he thought of Sirius...he told her everything.
When he had finally finished he couldn't help the tears that flowed from his masculine eyes. He quickly tried to wipe them away, but more kept coming. And then Hermione reached for him. She pulled him into a loving hug. His face was buried in her bushy hair and he felt her arms clasped tightly around him. And then he heard an odd, muffled sort of wailing sound. Hermione was stroking his hair and whispering, "It's okay, Harry. I'm here. Just let it out."
He was the one wailing. He couldn't stop it. All the emotion he had bottled up inside himself since Sirius' death was coming out right into Hermione's hair. He clenched the back of her shirt tightly and cried until it hurt.
Finally he quieted. Hermione was gently rocking him. He wanted to stay there in her arms forever. For so long he had felt so alone and now with her all of the hardships and pain he had dealt with in the past seemed only a memory.
She released him. Looking into her eyes he saw they were shiny with tears once again. But she smiled. She reached up and stroked his cheek. "There. You're all right."
But Harry wasn't so sure he was. He felt butterflies in his stomach...that knot that always got stuck in his throat when he used to talk to Cho Chang was back. Just looking at her was giving him goosebumps--the good kind.
Before he even knew what he was doing he had cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She seemed startled at first, but then she gave into him. After a couple of minutes she pushed him away. She was red and she muttered something unintelligable.
"Hermione, when you smile at me...I don't know. All the bad in my life goes away. Your face shines so bright that I have to close my eyes. You're like an angel to me...you're always here for me. You've been the most loyal of everyone I know...there's no one anywhere I love more than you," he said, feeling a bit stupid and gushy.
Hermione just stared at him thunderstruck.
Harry thought he should say more...there was something else he was feeling but he didn't know how to translate it into words...he looked around at the light and surrounding darkness...
"Hermione," he said quietly, grabbing her shoulders tenderly, "see how it's so dark out? It looks so gloomy and depressing...until you look at that light there. It shines in the middle of the darkness. Well, 'Mione, you're the light in the middle of my dark life."
He was surprised at how poetic it sounded when he got it out.
Hermione smiled and a tear slid down her cheek. "I love you too," she whispered.
Harry wanted to stay there--looking into her eyes. But unfortunately that was not how fate would have it.
"Is that you, Harry?" Said a voice that sounded halfway between angry and astonished.
Harry and Hermione hadn't even noticed them. Dudley and his gang had obviously decided to sneak out of the house. They were standing nearby. Dudley was looking back and forth between Harry and Hermione. Harry winced inwardly.
"That is Harry!" Said one of the other boys.
"But who's that pretty girl?" Said another.
Hermione looked back at Harry and mustered another smile. "Owl me, Harry."
She kissed him on the cheek and walked back toward the sidewalk where she disappereared soon into the darkness. After a few seconds he heard a loud BANG and knew she'd arrived by the Knight Bus.
Harry suffered another beating from Dudley and his gang before he was able to creep back to the Dursleys. He made it safely to his room where he flopped down on the bed. He felt excited. He felt happy. He wanted to write Hermione a letter right then. Exhaustion overcame him and he fell asleep, fearful that he would have nightmares once again of Sirius' death...they played so often in his head like a stuck record player...
But he only dreamt of Hermione.
Author's Notes: I bubble like an over-filled pot of boiling water. Harry/Hermione is the bestest best, best, best, most bestesty-best pairing ever. The end. Fin. Owari. And I most certainly have read book six, but that doesn't bring a change in the winds for me in one tiny bit. My SHIP is still sailing and will never sink, regardless of who Her Heighness (read: J.K. Rowling) decides to pair up with whom.
deep breath That being said, I really just felt Harry had a lot of emotion he needed to get out. It's never good to store up such deep emotion. Who better to be on the receiving end of the pouring-out than Hermione? If I recall right, it helped me to get out some emotion, too, and I felt all the better for it. :3
And rest in peace, Sirius. We all know you're not really dead because you're SIRIUS BLACK so how could you be??? You still have to have many more lust-filled nights with Moony and if you dare leave the poor darling all alone in this great big world, I swear I'll--perhaps this is better left for a differently paired fanfic.